Friday, December 23, 2005

Palestinian factions urge no vote delays

From ABC News On Line Friday, December 23, 2005. 9:48am (AEDT) ...

Hamas and 10 other Palestinian factions have urged President Mahmoud Abbas not to delay parliamentary elections any further, even if Israel bans voting in Arab East Jerusalem.
Israel's refusal to allow East Jerusalem's Palestinians to vote on January 25 has drawn calls from some officials for a postponement.

A delay could suit Mr Abbas's divided Fatah movement very well, but not Hamas as it rides a surge of popularity.

Israel opposes participation by Hamas, a militant group sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state.

The Palestinian Government-run WAFA news agency quotes Mr Abbas as saying he wants the vote held on time and for East Jerusalem's Palestinians to be allowed to take part in it. Foreign donors have been pushing for the long-delayed parliamentary ballot to strengthen democracy but they are also wary of Hamas doing very well.

...Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath says "we cannot hold elections anywhere if the Palestinians in Jerusalem are not allowed to vote".
- Reuters

Norwegian Parliament shuns Israeli products

From Ynet News (12.22.05, 17:22) ...

A (Norwegian) regional parliament has ruled to boycott Israeli products in protest of 'Israel's oppression of Palestinians'; ADL condemns ruling, says 'decision only serves to exacerbate tensions and ill-will'
Eytan Amit

The Norwegian parliament in the Sor-Trondelag region ruled Saturday to boycott products made in Israel and to forbid the sale and purchase of Israeli goods.

... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) strongly condemned the ruling Wednesday, saying that "this decision does nothing to promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, but only serves to exacerbate tensions and ill-will.” ....

Violence Against Jews Continues Worldwide

From Israel National News 21:36 Dec 22, '05 / 21 Kislev 5766 By Ezra HaLevi ...

Though many of them have only appeared on page two of local Jewish papers, a wave of anti-Jewish attacks continues around the globe. In recent weeks...

* In Australia the Executive Council of Australian Jewry's annual report points to Jews there increasingly being verbally abused and physically attacked. "There were 332 incidents of anti-Jewish assault, vandalism, intimidation and harassment in the past 12 months," according to the report. ....

* A 16-year-old British Jew was attacked with a knife in Manchester last week. ...

* A French court sentenced a 25-year-old man last week to three years in jail for vandalizing a cemetery with Nazi graffiti and anti-Jewish slogans.

* Three teens in Swampscott, Massachusetts have been charged with hate crimes after burning a van belonging to a local Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue. ....

* A large menorah was torn down and stomped to pieces by a group of vandals at a South Philadelphia community center last week. ....

* An anti-Jewish TV program called "America is a Changing Country” was aired on cable access television in Maryland. The program, produced by National Alliance neo-Nazi group, blames, “Jewish media” for urban decay and the denigration of "Aryan values."

* Thousands of fans of Hungary's Ujpest FC soccer team chanted anti-Jewish slogans during a league match last month ....

* In Salt Lake City, Utah, a plaque featuring a quote by Rabbi Eric Silver... was defaced. ...

* In Peru, Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein...told ...of a significant rise in attacks on the country's small Jewish community. ....

* Jews in the South Tottenham area of London have reported that they live in constant fear of violent attacks, citing several recent cases of unprovoked assaults on outwardly Orthodox Jews.

* ...the regimes in the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Syria promoted Holocaust-denial or defended Holocaust-deniers over the past year.... the head of Egypt`s Muslim Brotherhood said that the Holocaust is a "myth."

*Also on Thursday a man was put on trial in Austria for publicly swearing allegiance to Adolf Hitler.

*A French group was reported to be distributing pork soup to homeless in a bid to exclude Muslims and Jews from benefiting from their magnanimity.

Follow the link for the full report.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Rocket hits IDF base; 5 troops hurt

From Ynet News 12.22.05, 07:53 ...

Qassam fire continues: Five IDF soldiers sustain light, moderate injuries after Qassam rocket lands in military base south of Ashkelon; earlier, another rocket lands in area, no injuries reported in attack
Hanan Greenberg

Four IDF soldiers sustained light wounds and another soldier suffered light to moderate injuries after a Qassam rocket landed in a military base south of Ashkelon Thursday morning.

The troops were hurt by shrapnel and will be taken to hospital for treatment.... The rocket landed around 9:45 a.m. near the base’s dining hall, which was crowded with soldiers and officers at the time of the attack. The battalion in question has been deployed to the area to address terror threats in the northern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources in Gaza said Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, was behind the rocket attack.

Troops at the base told Ynet about the panic that followed the rocket attack. “We heard an explosion near the dining hall,” one soldier said. “At first we didn’t understand what happened but within several seconds it became clear a Qassam landed here. Several soldiers were hit by shrapnel and we can still hear the noises ringing in our ears.”

...Meanwhile, the IDF began firing artillery shells at northern Gaza Strip rocket launching sites in response to the latest attacks.

...Earlier Thursday, a Qassam fired from the Gaza landed in an open area near the industrial zone south of Ashkelon.

...Two day ago, Palestinians fired four Qassam rockets at Israeli targets. Two of the rockets landed in open areas near the southern town of Sderot and another one landed in an army base.

...In response, the army directed artillery fire at rocket launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz proposed to bomb the Gaza Strip and force Palestinian residents in several areas to flee to the Sinai desert in response to the ongoing rocket attacks.

Shmulik Hadad contributed to the story

Terror wave imminent

From Jerusalem Post Dec. 22, 2005 0:26 Updated Dec. 22, 2005 8:35 By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN AND HERB KEINON...

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman Wednesday and urged him to prod the Palestinian Authority to curb attacks on Israelis. Mofaz told Suleiman the defense establishment currently had six alerts of planned suicide bombings and that a wave of Palestinian terrorism was pending.

Security concerns also were at the top of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's agenda on his first day back at work after recovering from a mild stroke. Sharon ... (spent) much of his time devoted to the security situation. He ... received pessimistic intelligence assessments that the Palestinian elections would lead to a spike in terrorism, an increase in Kassam attacks and an escalation of violence along the northern border.

...In his meeting with Suleiman, Mofaz warned that the PA was losing control of the Palestinian areas, adding that this was "a situation Israel cannot accept...." ... Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak dispatched Suleiman to the region to "reduce tensions" of terrorist attacks against Israelis and ensure that the PA elections take place as scheduled.

Mofaz told Suleiman that intelligence indicated funding for Palestinian terrorist groups was still flowing from Damascus, and reiterated his desire to take steps to support and strengthen PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas before the PA elections. But, he said, he would not do so at the expense of harming the security of Israelis. Suleiman assured Mofaz he would pressure the PA to restore calm and reduce violence.

... Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the military/political and policy bureau at the Defense Ministry.... said the PA paid 60,000 salaries a month to their security forces, but they were for all purposes "paralyzed" because there were no instructions coming down from the PA leadership. "First of all, it is the Palestinian Authority that needs to install order," he said. "But they are doing nothing. This has wide implications. Is this even a government? Can they even exert their will? Can they prevent anarchy and crime? If not, then their weak image will deepen."

"At the moment it is an authority that doesn't impose its will and is reconciled with anarchy and violence in its territory and doesn't lift a finger to prevent terrorism," Gilad told Israel Radio. "And anyone who doesn't lift a finger to prevent terrorism should not be surprised when they ask for political concessions and they don't get them."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

ADL: Evangelicals threat to religious pluralism

From Ynetnews 20/12/05 ....

Anti-Defamation League Director Abraham Foxman tells reporters in Jerusalem that U.S. Evangelicals are threat to America's religious pluralism. In an interview with Ynetnews, Foxman says he is not concerned with Christian support for Israel, does not see Spielberg's new film as attack on Israel.
Yaakov Lappin

U.S. Evangelicals are threatening America's rich tradition of religious pluralism, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Director Abraham Foxman told a press conference in Jerusalem Tuesday.

While referring to American Christian Evangelicals as "our friends," Foxman went on to warn: "If they succeed on their domestic agenda, to change the balance of the separation of church and state, and bring America closer to a Christian nation, as they wish, if they would judge candidates as they wish to judge them, by whether or not they will act under Jesus' philosophy, how many Jews do you think will eventually get elected?"

Foxman said that Evangelical Christians are attempting to implement changes "by legislation," adding that religious organizations in the United States are aiming to control "what pharmacists may or may not dispense, what operations can or cannot be undertaken, and what books can be read."

"What we found distressing was that, unlike the past when the debate was Judeo-Christian values… today the discussion is: Christian. It's not God, its Jesus. It's a particularist truth that is being promoted," Foxman said.

...In an ominous warning, he added that while the intent was not anti-Semitic, "the Hollywood media" was a common reply given to the question of who was plotting against Christmas.
"If this campaign succeeds… the unintended result is to undermine the pluralism of our country," Foxman said.

Support for Israel not a concern
Speaking to Ynetnews, Foxman fell short of extending his domestic concerns over the activities of U.S. Evangelical groups to their relationship with Israel. Their support was "based on theology," he said. "They believe in the second coming, I'm waiting for the first," Foxman said, adding that he was not worried about the motive behind the Evangelicals' support.

'Spielberg is not the enemy of Israel'
The ADL leader said he had attended a private screening of Steven Spielberg's film, "Munich," which deals with the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists, and Israel's subsequent pursuit of those behind the murders.

"We do not think this is an attack on Israel," Foxman said, adding that there was "no moral equivalency" portrayed between the terrorists and Israeli agents. "It shows unbridled, brutal terrorism on the part of the Palestinians. It shows the need to respond. Also, this is not a documentary… it's a work of fiction based on a historical event. It was a movie waiting to be made. And if anybody makes it, if I had my choice, it wouldn't be Mel Gibson. It would be Spielberg. And all of the sudden to make Spielberg the enemy of Israel and the Jewish people… is a distortion of what it's all about," he said.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Zarqawi Sets up Gaza Branch

From a DEBKAfile Exclusive Report, December 19, 2005, 1:37 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

Since early December, a branch of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq has been running a forward base in Gaza City preparatory to in-depth attacks in Israel, according to DEBKAfile’s exclusive counter-terror sources. It joins the Al Qaeda-Palestine cell established some weeks ago in the Gaza Strip.

A high-ranking Israeli army officer confided to us: “For years, we fought al Qaeda in unpublicized encounters in remote places far from our borders. Now we have to admit they are here, on our very threshold ... The conjunction of al Qaeda and Palestinian terrorist structures confronts Israel with a grave strategic threat.”

... Intelligence chiefs informed the prime minister that the new cell linked up with the local branch of the Palestinian terror umbrella, the Popular Resistance Committees, which is headed by Shekh Khalil Kuka. The PRC welcomed the newcomer by making its publicity outlets available. Since Monday, Dec. 5, PRC Internet websites have been posting daily bulletins on Zarqawi’s attacks on US and Iraqi targets which often run to 20-30 communiques a day.
These bulletins are now released simultaneously in Baghdad, Gaza, Rafah and Khan Younes. In Gaza, they appear alongside a PRC statement declaring: “The Palestinian and Zarqawi’s struggles are one and the same.”

It is the first time that a Palestinian combat-terrorist organization has aligned itself directly and openly with al Qaeda’s commander in Iraq. Yet, although no attempt has been made to conceal this alliance, it has received no publicity in Israel.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that Israeli counter-terror agencies are quietly working on the premise that the Popular Resistance Committees of Gaza and the Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades of the West Bank plan to make their operational structures available to Zarqawi’s cell for in-depth attacks in Israel.

Meanwhile, the new cell is not letting the grass grow under its feet. Its leaders have managed to enlist the support of the Bedouin clans of southern Gaza, which number tens of thousands of tribesmen, thereby substantially expanding their logistical base. Al Qaeda’s Sinai cell, which Egypt has been unable to root out, already counts on northern Sinai’s Bedouin clans for logistical support.

The pledge of solidarity issued by Gaza’s Khan Younes and Deir Balah Bedouin chiefs declares: “We are now committed to following Zarqawi’s flag.” It condemns the Bani Hassan Bedouin tribe of Jordan for reprimanding and expelling members who joined al Qaeda and accuses their chiefs of capitulating to the rulers of Jordan.

...In July and August, 2005, ahead of Israel’s evacuation of the Gaza Strip, DEBKAfile warned that Zarqawi and al Qaeda’s terrorists were waiting for the pullback to establish forward bases in the Gaza Strip. Four months later, they are poised for action on Israel’s borders.

PM's stroke will recalibrate Kadima's message

from Jerusalem Post Dec. 19, 2005 18:37 Updated Dec. 19, 2005 19:02 By HERB KEINON...

"Kadima is not one man, it is a path," Transportation Minister and Kadima stalwart Meir Sheetrit told Army Radio Monday morning, the day after Kadima's founder and star - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - suffered a mild stroke.

. . .Kadima is Sharon. He is the magnet that has attracted politicians as diverse as Haim Ramon on the left and Tzachi Hanegbi on the right. He is the glue that binds the party together. Without Sharon, there is no cement keeping Shimon Peres and Shaul Mofaz in the same party.
Sheetrit is kidding himself if he believes that the public views Kadima as presenting a clear ideological path. For the public, Kadima represents a vehicle through which Sharon can continue to pursue his policies - policies which, if the polls are to be believed, the majority of the country wants continued.

. . .Expect to see two messages coming out of Kadima's handlers over the next few days.

The first will be obvious: Sharon is fit as a fiddle, the stroke left no lingering damage, and in no time at all Sharon will be back at his ranch hoisting grandkids on his knees and slinging lambs over his shoulders.

The second message will be that Kadima is more than Sharon, that there is indeed a Kadima team with a Kadima message and a clear line of succession.

. . .The party's strategists will likely give the public a clear indication of who will fill what positions in the next government if Kadima, as expected, wins at the polls. This may go a long way toward dispelling uncertainty as to what direction the new party would be pulled were Sharon unable to complete another term in office. . . .

Silvan Shalom concedes defeat

From The Australian, correspondents in Jerusalem, December 20, 2005 . . .

ISRAELI Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom rang former premier Benjamin Netanyahu to concede defeat in the contest to become leader of the right-wing Likud party, public television reported today. The phone call came after exit polls forecast a clear victory for Mr Netanyahu over his chief challenger for the post which was made vacant by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's resignation from Likud last month.

The official results were expected to be announced shortly.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"Wipe Out Israel and Take Democracy With You"

From Arutz Sheva 18:50 Dec 18, '05 / 17 Kislev 5766 By Debbie Berman ...

Arab Israeli Knesset Member Azmi Bishara ... addressing an Arab audience in Lebanon, asserted that Arabs were the original residents of the land and urged Israelis to leave and take their democracy with them.

”Israel is the 20th century's greatest robbery, carried out in broad daylight. I will never recognize Zionism even if all Arabs do. I will never concede Palestine. The battle is still long," Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara stated at a Lebanese book fair last week in Beirut. "The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not a demographic dispute, but a national one. It's not the problem of 1.2 million Palestinians living in Israel. They are like all Arabs, only with Israeli citizenship forced upon them. We are the original residents of Palestine, not those who came from Poland and Russia," Bishara told Lebanese newspaper Al -Safir. .... "Return Palestine to us and take your democracy with you. We Arabs are not interested in it..." ....

Knesset Member Azmi Bishara was born in Nazareth in 1956...(he) announced his intentions to campaign for re-election to the Knesset in the upcoming elections in the party that he founded, the National Democratic Assembly (NDA). Bishara left Israel for Lebanon last week without receiving consent from the Interior Ministry for his trip.

This is not the first time Bishara has brashly spoken against Israel to audiences in hostile Arab nations. In June, 2001... in Syria at a memorial ceremony in Damascus for the late Hafez Assad....Bishara appeared jointly with Hizbullah terrorist leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and called for a ‘united Arab nation’ to come together against Israel. Angry reactions from Knesset members included then Coalition leader Likud MK Ze'ev Boim who said, "Bishara has publicly connected himself to Israel's worst enemies. This cannot be ignored, and the police should detain him and possibly charge him for conspiring with the enemy." MK Michael Kleiner of Herut stated, "In any normal country, they'd put him in front of a firing squad. It's inconceivable that an Israeli Knesset member would encourage Arab states to launch a full-scale war against us."

...In addition to his harsh statements against Israel, Bishara also criticized the leaders of Arab nations who maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, including Tunisia where Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom recently visited. "Why does one of the Arab countries provide a home for Silvan Shalom, while the army destroys homes in Palestine on a daily basis? If you want to surrender, do it, but don't force us to give in," Bishara told Al-Safir.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Defensible Borders for Lasting Peace

This is essential reading for every friend of Israel, from the Executive Summary of a study by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs ...

Israel is one of the few states in the world that for most of its history has been under repeated military assault by its neighbors. Yet Israel's vulnerability is expected to increase in the future after territorial concessions that may be part of an eventual peace treaty with the Palestinians. A formula does exist to make such peace arrangements stable. .... the idea that Israel need(s) new defensible lines to ensure a lasting peace.

While Israel's right to defensible borders has been recognized most recently by the Bush administration, unfortunately this has been largely overlooked in much of the recent public discourse on Middle East peace-making, which stresses the territorial aims of the Palestinians but rarely gives equal weight to long-held Israeli rights and defensive requirements. Indeed, in certain quarters, including parts of Europe, many of Israel's security needs are dismissed ....

This study concludes that the underlying strategic logic justifying Israel's claim to defensible borders, as well as its international legal validity, is just as relevant today as in 1967, and perhaps even more so: (go to the Executive Summary to see the explanation of each of the points below)
  • Israel's strategic planning for the future cannot be based on a short-term reading of the situation after the 2003 Iraq War....
  • Within the 1967 lines, from a purely military standpoint, Israel loses the ability to defend itself....
  • The current West Bank security fence cannot become a future eastern border for Israel....
  • Israel must retain the Jordan Valley in any future political arrangement with the Palestinians....

(go to the Executive Summary to see the explanation of each of these points)

© 2005 Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

The Palestinians' choice

From a Jerusalem Post Editorial, Dec. 18, 2005 0:53 Updated Dec. 18, 2005 1:00 ...

The Palestinians have a basic choice before them: continuing the war or building a state. Electorally, the war party seems to be winning.

In Thursday's municipal elections, Hamas candidates won a remarkable 13 out of 15 seats in the traditional Fatah stronghold of Nablus. In Jenin, Hamas won eight seats and Fatah won seven. In al-Bireh, a town adjacent to Ramallah, Hamas won nine seats, while Fatah won only four.

Though the strength of Hamas is often attributed to the public's rejection of the corruption of Fatah's old guard, at the Hamas victory rally in Nablus the crowd was not chanting for clean government but "To Jerusalem we march, martyrs by the millions!"

Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives has resoundingly passed a resolution stating that allowing Hamas terrorists to participate in the legislative elections scheduled next month would "potentially undermine the ability of the United States to have a constructive relationship with or provide further assistance to the Palestinian Authority." This is a welcome statement, but it also should be considered a restatement of the obvious.

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently noted at Princeton, terrorist groups such as Hamas "cannot simultaneously keep an option on politics and an option on violence. There simply isn't a case that I can think of internationally where that's been permitted to happen." Actually, not only is such a combination of politics and terror conceivable, but this is an accurate description of the Oslo period and why that experiment failed. When Israel balked at exactly this combination, we were told that we were obstructing the peace process.

Now, attitudes have changed somewhat, and indeed there is much less international patience for the Palestinian penchant for keeping the terror option always open. To be more precise, the possibilities of pressuring Israel to make more concessions to a nascent Palestinian terror state have diminished.

Regardless of how well Hamas does in elections, the salient question for Israel and the international community is whether the Palestinian Authority prevents terrorist organizations - elected or not - from operating in its midst. If the PA does not do this, not only should Israel have nothing to do with it, but the international community should, as the US Congress suggests, stop sustaining the PA diplomatically and financially.

No one can force the Palestinians to choose peace and the state that is being offered to them in exchange. What Israel and the rest of the world can do is force the Palestinians to choose between peace and a state on the one hand and continuing war and terror on the other.
The international failure to make this choice stark enough for the Palestinians - by allowing them to receive aid and negotiate without abandoning terror - has ensured the failure of any peace process and has prolonged the suffering of both parties. Even now, we would hazard a guess that most Palestinians do not believe that voting for Hamas, at least in local elections, will jeopardize international financial support.

Indeed, many Palestinians seem to believe that, not only do they not have to choose between terror and a state, but that terrorism remains the best way to obtain their national goals. The fact that such a belief is evidently alive and well after all the declarations that terror must stop is damning evidence that the international community has failed to convince Palestinians that it is serious about forcing such a choice.

The international community has done the Palestinians no favor in this respect. Nor can anyone expect the situation to change as international aid to the PA continues to pour in despite the corruption, lack of transparency, anarchy, and refusal to end incitement and crack down on terrorism.

To date, the refusal of donors to turn off their financial spigots has been out of fear that the alternative is Hamas rule. Now we see the exact opposite: the more the corrupt PA is artificially propped up, the more the people want to replace it with Hamas. The solution, rather than continuing to finance the PA at all costs, is to more seriously link funding to what the donors have demanded for years: ending terror, corruption and incitement and introducing the rule of law.

Tehran assumes sponsorship of Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal

From DEBKAfile: December 17, 2005, 5:00 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

A special Iranian plane flew Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to Revolutionary Guards HQ at Bandar Abbas Monday, Dec. 12, after he spent 10 days in Tehran as favored guest of Iran’s clerical rulers ....

There, he conferred with the RG commanders, heads of its intelligence branch and officers of the al Quds Battalions, which host the men fighting in Iraq under al Qaeda chief Abu Musab al Zarqawi, for training, medical aid and rest.

Meshall conferred with the RG commanders on operational collaboration between the two Palestinian groups Hamas and Jihad Islami in Gaza and the West Bank and their hook-up with Iranian networks and Hizballah in Lebanon. Tehran is footing the bill for the boost in their terror operations.

DEBKAfile terror experts add: The Bandar Abbas conference also discussed ways and means of bolstering al Qaeda’s presence in the Gaza Strip and helping Osama bin Laden’s organization spread its wings to the West Bank alongside Meshaal’s own Hamas.